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Q.

Dear Father Angelo

I would like to thank you for the “monumental” work you have undertaken in illuminating the many doubts that believers may encounter in the learning process of Catholic doctrine thanks to your vast knowledge of the sacred texts, combined with a wise ability to divulge difficult concepts in a simple way.

If I am not mistaken, God does not send anyone to hell, instead he accepts man’s free will in choosing his final destination. In other words, if a man with full awareness and deliberate consent chooses Evil, the final destination will be hell; nothing will be needed prayers, supplications and intercessions if Man will find himself, at the time of the Final Judgment, in this condition.

Now, I ask myself, if the salvation of sinners depends exclusively on their free choice between God and Evil, what is the use of prayers for the conversion of sinners even going so far as to ask for personal sufferings for the reparation of the sins of others? Did not Jesus pay for everyone? St. Paul, if I am not mistaken, said that we should suffer to complete the sufferings of Christ, but St. Paul was a man enlightened by the Holy Spirit. He even arrived at the Third Heaven, but still as a man. In my opinion, he sometimes gave wrong assessments, such as when he thought not good to take the future evangelist St. Mark with him on a missionary journey.

For these reasons, when I pray to the Lord I never offer myself as a sacrificial victim for the sins perpetrated by human kinds. I rather believe that people should pay for their sins “in the Roman way”, that is, each one pays for himself. However, I ask the Lord that sinners, including myself, have the full and total awareness, as if it were the day of the Last Judgment, of the sin they commit against God. Then, each one should have honors and burdens from his own free choice.

If Jesus, present in the Holy Trinity as the Son of God, together with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, did not succeed in converting his opponents and enemies (perhaps because everything had already been written) I certainly cannot fool myself that I can do it.

Is my prayer wrong?

May the Lord be always with you,

Aldo


A.

Dear Aldo,

1. Your observations would be correct if, as the philosopher Leibniz said, we were monads, that is entities that have internal activity, but cannot be physically influenced by external elements. Each monad is a world on its own, with no doors or windows.

However, according to the Divine Revelation, things are not like that.

2. For we are all intimately connected to each other, like the members of an organism, to the point of forming One Body in Christ.

Without this communion, not even the redemption of Christ could reach us.

3. This union is rooted in the ontological union of each one of us with God: “For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28).

There is a continuous osmosis between God and us, as God vivifies us moment by moment, and gives us the possibility to exist.

4. Baptism further grafts believers as living members onto the Lord Jesus Christ and his church.

This title of Lord is of the highest importance, because it indicates His divine nature, his being God. Through Baptism, He pours out upon us His divine and supernatural life, grace, which at the same time purifies us from our sins.

5. He does this not by himself, but through the Church.

He reaches us, and generates faith in us through the preaching of the Church.

He communicates his grace to us through the Sacraments instituted by Him and given to the Church for our benefit.

He is so united with the Church that He identifies with her, at the point that, when He appeared to Paul at the gates of Damascus, He said: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4).

He identifies with the Church, works with the Church, and continues his work of sanctification within the Church.

Therefore, He does not communicate grace to us on His own, but through the Church.

6. The source of grace and forgiveness of sins is all in Him.

Christ alone, as God, is the author of grace. He creates it and spreads it.

Nevertheless, in generating and spreading it, He makes use of the Church, in which all believers are united as members or cells of the same organism, the same body.

7. Now, His Grace reaches the cells that need it according to the greater or lesser disposition of the other cells, or members.

As we can see, our disposition towards our neighbors is important: we can allow Christ’s grace to flow to his members, or we can impede this flow.

It is for this reason that St. Paul said: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and I fulfill what is lacking in my flesh of Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, which is the Church.
I have become a minister of the Church, according to the mission entrusted to me by God for you, to bring the word of God to completion.
For this I toil and strive, with the strength that comes from him and that works in me with power” (Col 1:24-25, 29).

8. Pius XII says in his Encyclical Mystici Corporis (29.6.1943): “our Savior, governing the Church from Himself in an invisible way, wishes to be helped by the members of His Mystical Body in carrying out the work of Redemption. This truly does not happen out of His indigence and weakness, but rather because He Himself so disposed for the greater honor of His undeserving Bride.
For while He was dying on the Cross, He gave to His Church, without any cooperation on her part, the immense treasure of Redemption; but when it comes to the distribution of this treasure, He not only communicates with His undefiled Bride the work of the sanctification of others, but He wants this sanctification to flow in some way also from her action” (EE 6, 193)

9. He then concludes with this great affirmation, which we should never forget: “It is certainly a tremendous mystery, which has never been sufficiently meditated upon: that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary mortifications undertaken for this purpose by the members of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, and on the cooperation of the Pastors and the faithful, especially fathers and mothers of families, in collaboration with the divine Savior” (EE 6, 193).

10. The Fatima message repeats this.

On July 13, 1917, Our Lady told the little shepherds, “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: ‘O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary’!”

In addition, on August 19: “Pray, pray very much; and make sacrifices for sinners, because many souls go to hell because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them.”

11. Some may resist the effects of the prayers and mortifications of others.

However, there will always be those who under the action of grace and the cooperation of the Saints feel the impulse to open the door.

I wish you to participate more and more deeply in this mystery, for it will constitute a good portion of your eternal glory.

I remember you to the Lord and bless you.

Father Angelo